February 9, 2008

I thought that you might get a kick out of seeing this piece. ‘True Thomas’ was a private commission from a ballad enthusiast who’s had very few stipulations except that I select my image from out of one of those same ballads. I choose a favorite scene out of a favorite Scottish border ballad, ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ wherein our hero first meets The Queen of Fair Elfand . She will then take him across the river of all the blood shed on earth into her fae kingdom and there Thomas will live for seven years. When he, at last, returns to this earth The Queen will have gifted him with a tongue that can only speak the truth, for good or ill.  With Robin Williamson’s lovely version of the ballad playing on my CD I happily sat down at the drawing board and this image just flowed off my fingertips. Not something that happens very often but you wont catch me ever objecting when it does. A gift from The Kindly Ones as it were. Here’s my initial pencil drawing:


And then my inks. Here I tried out a dry brush technique using a hand made mixture of brown and black FW inks and a sable brush. At first I was only going to use this technique for Thomas’ cloak but it was  working so well that I just kept on going over the whole surface. I liked how it came out quite a bit.


As I do with all my painted work ,I then I overlaid that with many, many layers  of FW ink, diluted so that the colors were fairly  transparent. This allows me to continually adjust the hue and saturation of my color pallet  over the entire surface of the piece. These adjustments are completely instinctual, learned from many years of slapping paint down onto paper, as I have absolutely no knowledge of institutional color theory. Here is the completed image:


I choose to set the scene in  that most magical and  liminal time between sunset and dark. If you look hard enough, between the horse’s legs, the road they are about to take to fair Elfland can be seen, glimmering in the dusk.



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January 31, 2008

I’ve had my head buried in two very different projects for the last several months. The first, which I’ll be blogging about a bit later is the design, sculpting and installation of a massive sculptural fountain based on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The second is the design of various set pieces for a theatrical production of Peter Pan at the Barter Theater in Abingdon VA. Years ago I worked with the same theater on designs for the same play that, unfortunately, I never felt were entirely successful, so this time around the director and I came up with a very different approach. In this production most of the scenery in Neverland are large, flat reproductions of my paintings, each layered, one over the other, to create a sort of multi-plane depth of field. The play opens next Tuesday (Feb. 5) and will run intermittently over the next three months. Come on down and have a seat, then tell me what you think, okay?


These next two images are for painted backdrops (18 x 30 ft) that will start to reveal the technicolor wonders of Neverland.



These two were made into separate hard drops (18 ft high), that will enter stage left and right. And yes, there ARE faeries scampering about amongst those leaves!


And finally, the NeverTree and the Home Under the Ground that will be reveled through progressive scenes during the length of the play. The tree itself is a painted backdrop, approximately 24 wide by 18 ft high. The large Sun and clouds drop and the two smaller trees above will be positioned behind it. Then the space inside the Home Under the Ground is actually cut out (8 x 14 ft) allowing room for Peter, the Lost Boys and Wendy to interact.


It was, of course, a lot of work, but also really fun to re-imagine one of my favorite plays.

Before I go, I want to thank Katie Brown, Ben Nicholson, Derek, D.R, Kyle, Mark, Cheri and all the other hard working folks at the Barter Scene shop for turning my scribbles into hard cold ‘reality’ and finally Rick Rose for asking in the first place.



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